What are "Rogation Days?"
Stewardship of creation is an ongoing ministry in the church. The creation which God declared good is entrusted to the care of humankind. Exercising that care is one dimension of daily Christian discipleship. Rogation Days are a way for the church to honor God for the gift of creation and to pray for the land, the gift of labor, and the needs of all people.
Rogation Days were traditionally celebrated during the fifty days of Easter on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Day. The word, Rogation, has its roots in the Latin word which means to ask or petition and it comes from the ancient introit for the Sunday preceding the Ascension. In some places, the celebrations of Rogation Days were quite elaborate and included processions from the church to and around fields while asking for God’s blessing.
Churches that have maintained the practice of celebrating Rogation Days in our time now no longer mark these days specifically before Ascension. Instead, Rogation Days are celebrated at times and places which meet local needs. With an increased awareness of the need for the stewardship of creation both within the church and within contemporary culture, the themes of thanksgiving for the land and petitions for a fruitful earth may be adapted around broader cultural celebrations of Earth Day.
Although Rogation Days are agricultural celebrations, they are not solely for rural congregations. These days underscore the dependence of all people, urban and rural, on the fruitfulness of the earth and human labor. The themes of Rogation Days may be highlighted in a special worship service or in prayers of intercession in the Sunday assembly during the spring.
Evangelical Lutheran Worship has a set of propers to commemorate the "Stewardship of Creation" (see Evangelical Lutheran Worship, page 63). These propers include two prayers traditionally used for Rogation Days: a prayer for fruitful seasons and a prayer for the stewardship of creation. (A third prayer for commerce and industry can be found on page 78 of Evangelical Lutheran Worship.) A set of scripture readings appropriate for a Rogation service is also provided. If a service is scheduled in a rural area at a representative farm or field, the "General Order of Blessing" from the Occasional Services Book may be used or adapted.
Hymns to mark Rogation Days might include any of the hymns under the topics of Creation, Preservation or Stewardship listed in various hymn indexes. "We Plow the Fields and Scatter" (ELW 680. 681) or an adaptation of St Francis’ Canticle of the Sun such as "All Creatures of Our God and King" (ELW 835) would be particularly appropriate to highlight our dependence on, and our stewardship of, God’s gift of creation.